• We Love Academy, And It Shows!

    Posted by Ann Wilt

    As we’re approaching the 2018 show season, we’ve been reflecting on our academy show adventures  from years past.  We believe the academy division is an invaluable tool to help our riders become better competitors, better horsemen and women, and  better sports.

    Fortunately, we’re located in an area where the academy division is very strong.  It actually started in the Chicago area, and the vision of the founders remains to this day.  The horse show associations in Wisconsin and Illinois recognize the importance of academy showing as well, and offer classes at big shows and offer entire dedicated performances at many of the smaller area shows. In 2017, our academy team consisting of 48 riders competed in 13 different shows away from home!

    Here at Knollwood, we believe the academy division is the entry point for our riders to discover the adventures of showing horses without having to own one.  We are proud of our many National and World Champion riders, and also proud to say that most of them started in our academy program.

    Our group of academy horses that travel with us love it as much as we do, too.

    Here’s why horses and riders alike love it so much:


    Academy Showing Builds Riding Skills.

    Our riders learn in both private and group settings at home, and many choose to enter competitions at the in-barn shows held at Knollwood.  Those events offer a great challenge to our new riders as the arena looks and sounds very different on show day.  Our lesson horses are ‘old hands’ at showing at Knollwood shows, and offer little reaction to the ‘spiffed up’ arena and the audience.  These old pros give the rider time to think and react to the crowd, the announcer, and the music in the arena while they do their jobs.  In short, they build confidence for the riders.

    For riders who move on to academy riding away from home, they’ll learn to ride in different arenas in different show atmospheres, gaining confidence all along the way.  The starter academy shows take place in smallish, quiet arenas with minimal distractions where riders can easily hear their instructor’s voice for guidance. New riders will also start on our academy professionals who will help the rider if they get caught up in the excitement. Our starter academy horses have been with us for years, and know the ropes.





    Academy Showing Builds Resilience

    As in life, things in the show ring don’t always go your way.  They just don’t.

    Our sport involves a judging process, not a numerical score.  We’re asking a hard working judge who’s trying their best to rank a class of riders in a short amount of time.  They judge what they see in front of them, and they make their best decision. 

      Successful riders quickly learn to respect the judges decision, and to move on. Instructors are happy to share their insights, and always do.  Then we prepare the plan for the next class.

    Team Knollwood is known far and wide for their good sportsmanship.  We cheer each other on, congratulate the winner and all the other riders in the class as well.

    Good sportsmanship is required, and bad sportsmanship is not tolerated. Fortunately, we have an unbelievably great group of parents who believe the same.   




    Academy Showing Builds Confidence

    It’s amazing to see how quickly riders become confident after a couple of shows. The experience of taking a horse through a class and having a blast doing it lets a rider know they can do this.  Confident riders progress to pushing their horses a little more, making their position a little stronger, and looking around the arena to get great ring position. We love watching the progress of our riders!


    Academy Showing Builds Teamwork

    While horse showing is not by definition a team sport, our riders become a team of support. Team Knollwood riders cheer each other on, congratulate each other, build each other up, and have a great time together.  We have the best parents, too.  They build up all the riders, and our families often stay in the same hotels at shows for pool time and dinner excursions.


    Riders also form teams with the horses they show. Horse and rider combinations spend hours at home together before a show, and get to know each other. Time spent in the stall lets a rider really get to know their 'show horse' and the bond is formed. Our academy horses are really personable, so we're not sure who enjoys this time the most, horse or rider.




    Academy Showing Means New Friends

    Riders get the chance to meet riders who ride on different days of the week at Knollwood, and they also meet riders from other lesson programs. Horse showing brings joins riders together with the love of horses in common.  Many of these friendships last a lifetime.


             Academy Showing Means Fun

    Many of the shows we attend offer activities beyond the show ring.  Riders can participate in Junior Judging where they stand in center ring with the judge and try to match their opinion. The judge then discusses the class with the participants, offering a useful education of the judge’s perspective.

    Some shows offer events such as craft activities, exhibitor parties, and even water balloon fights.




    Academy Showing Introduces You to The Nicest Horses

    Our academy show horses are special. Reserved for riders who compete away from home, this unbelievable group of grand horses really enjoys traveling to shows. Eddie, Hooper, and Klem take care of our newest show ring stars, and the sky’s the limit with where riders can go with this. We have academy horses who compete on the ‘B’ show circuit, and even have some that live in the show barn and are used for lessons with our show barn staff.

    This group of horses is the best.




    If you think you’d like to learn more about the fun of academy showing, please join us at our academy seminar on Saturday, January 27 at 6:00 PM.

    We’ll share information about our 2018 schedule, and about clothing requirements. We’ll offer demos of how to make the perfect horse show bun, make up for the show ring with a Mary Kay rep, and we’ll showcase some of our current academy stars in the arena.

    Of course, we’ll also provide snacks as well!


    Whether you're collecting information, already thinking of  attending a couple of shows, or if you'd like to fast track to the show horse world, we'd love to help you discover the possibilities.

    Please come with your questions about the process we love so much. We know you’ll feel the same way!




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  • Now It's Our Turn!

    Posted by Ann Wilt

    2018 is upon us, and the school horses have made their resolutions for the new year. 

    We already have some amendments, however.

    Thomas has decided to stay in his stall while being bridled instead of trying to back into the aisle, and  Hooper resolves to  get over his fear of pullover blankets. Again.


    Status report so far? 

    It’s January 10, and Willy has offered ZERO free cantering lessons.  Hooper, Klem and Eddie are still performing patterns as they know they should be, but they’re trying to listen to their riders instead of being the pattern gurus that they are.


    Now it’s your turn.

    It’s time to look ahead to the new year and decide what you’re aiming for with your riding skills.  Team Knollwood members ride for lots of reasons, so resolutions will be varied as well. Goals help riders develop a plan to get better, and the feeling of meeting your goal just can’t be beat.


    Just starting your riding adventures? 

    You might want to strive to keep your reins a good length, or work on crop switching on the reverse while keeping your reins intact.  Maybe your goal is to master those pesky diagonals, or two point at the trot for a longer time.


    Maybe you’d like to ride in your first in-barn show here at Knollwood.  If you’ve already shown at home, maybe you can strive to start pattern work to show in a pattern class this year.


    The learning never stops.

    For our advanced beginner riders, the most popular resolution is probably to learn to canter. 

    You could resolve to do more bareback riding or graduate to riding in a saddle without the stirrups to increase your core and leg strength. Or maybe the goal is to identify canter leads, or learn lead changes.

    Maybe you’d like to ride in your first out of barn show, or work on your showing skills at our in-barn shows. For those riders who have already enjoyed traveling to shows, perhaps you’d like to show at a particular show, work hard to make the workout in championships, or work on your showmanship skills.



    For our more experienced riders, perhaps you’d like to perfect your leg position or work on more difficult patterns.  Maybe you have a particular horse you’d like to aim for, or a particular big show you’d like to compete in.  Perhaps you’d like to achieve ‘counselor’ status at summer riding school, or spend more time at the barn by offering to pick up extra helping days.


    For our riders on the 'A' circuit, maybe your goal is to qualify for equitation finals, or to perform all 5 gaits in one class to Scott's satisfaction, or to master the 'Good Hands' pattern. You might resolve to  perfect your transitions or to keep your horse relaxed and walking straight or to make great passes in the arena.


    The best way to achieve your riding resolution is to ride. 

    Ride any horse you can whenever you can.

      Show whatever horse your can at whatever show you can.

    Team Knollwood is beyond fortunate to have a complete library  of lesson horses. Each one of them has important lessons to teach, so resolve to become acquainted with all of them you can.

    The Knollwood shows are a great opportunity to show some horses you usually don't, and  these 'library books' have great  hidden lessons to teach.   They can all help achieve your resolution, whatever it is.


    We have a bulletin board set up in the school barn for your 2018 Riding Resolutions.  Please join your fellow riders and share your resolution with everyone. If you’re not sure of a plan, your instructor would be happy to talk about it and develop a plan for you.

    Whatever your riding goals, we want to help you meet them!


    Tradition. Honor. Passion.


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  • The School Horses Have Made Their Resolutions!

    Posted by Ann Wilt

    Happy New Year from the Knollwood lesson horses!

    During the recent holiday cold snap, the boys have enjoyed some off time, and plenty of hot meals.  While enjoying their bran mash relaxation, the Master of the Pasture, Sundance, had each of the fellows submit their New Year's Resolutions for 2018.

      In alphabetical order, here's the plan for the upcoming year!

    Amos resolves to contain his enthusiasm when trotting with the wee riders.



    Baxter Would like to land a modeling contract.



    Big Frank will take better care of his clothes.


    Helper favorite Bo will attempt to bring it down a notch and join the advanced beginner group of horses.



    Brinkley enjoyed the holiday break a bit too much this year, and has resolved to watch his weight in 2018. He has to stay in shape for cantering lessons!



    Cashew will continue his relaxation and enjoyment of pattern work.



    Dexter resolves to be as friendly to his stall neighbors as he is to his little girls.




    Dudley will continue to advance in his recovery from the bad haircut of 2017.


    Duke resolves to resist the urge to bend in the middle when he doesn’t want to do something.




    Eddie will listen to his riders when performing patterns.  This may result in some 'mistakes' as he listens to the information presented to him.


    Forest submitted many, many resolutions, many of them repeats from previous years.

    Sundance suggested that Forest embace the low carb lifestyle in 2018.



    Fred will try to work more, nap less, and work on that expanding waistline.




    Heist will try to keep his opinions to himself, and his ears in the forward position during lessons.




    Hooper, our pattern master to the up and comers, will copy Eddie's resolution and 'make mistakes' on patterns by doing what his riders request instead of what he really knows the pattern to be.



    Hugo resolves to stop filling neighbor Picasso's feed tub every day.




    JD resolves to practice niceness and good manners in his stall.




    Joey resolves to take deep breaths to slow down and enjoy group lessons.




    Klem will attempt to contain his glee when making victory passes with the walk and trot riders. 

    Ask Maiya for clarification.



    Lil' Frank will try to be present in his classes, and not stop to take mental breaks.



    Mark resolves to work on his vocabulary skills until he know what a resolution is.


    Murphy will practice mindfulness to stay in the moment, not ahead of it.


    Panic resolves to keep his stall cleaner. 

    Eat more, dunk less.



    Picasso will increase his petition attempts for a new stall.

    His tag line?

    'Anywhere BUT next to Hugo.'


    Sparky resolves to help Thomas make more friends at the round bale.


    Sundance will try to maintain a friendly workplace for all members of his herd.



    Thomas resolves expand his circle of friends in the pasture.



    Tony will try to stop using every day pasture items as tools in his attempts to haze new herd members.



    Willy resolves to  act his age more often and stop offering free cantering lessons.


    There you have it, the school horses are ready for the challenges of 2018. Are you?  The bulletin board in the lounge is ready for everyone's riding resolutions for the new year.  Please add yours to the board!


    Don'r forget our upcoming events!

    This Friday Team Knollwood has a special shopping session from 8-10 PM with Midwest Saddleseat Consignment.  Please join us at the Hilton Garden Inn on Pabst Circle in Oconomowoc for a friendly shopping session with your barn friends.  The shopping is open to the public starting on Saturday morning, too!


    Carla from The GIlded Lily will be at Knollwood On Saturday, January 13 to measure for academy vests.  Please talk to Nancy or Ann to arrange an appointment to get outfitted for the new show season!

    Our academy seminar is coming up fast on Saturday, January 27.  Join us at 6 for an evening all about why we love academy showing.  You'll learn a lot, meet new friends, and enjoy some laughs as you watch demos and talk schedules, clothing, and all the hows and whys.  Please sign up in the school barn lounge so we have plenty of info folders ready.


    The Knockouts awards banquet is coming up on Saturday, February 17.  Invitations will be going out shortly to all club members to gather at the Legends of Bristlecone for an evening of food, fun, awards, and dancing.  If you're not a member, we always welcome new ones, and your instructor can get you all set up to join the fun.


    Happy New Year!!

    See you at the barn soon.



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  • Let's Embrace the Winter to Look Forward to Spring!

    Posted by Ann Wilt

    All the presents have been opened, and our schedules return to usual next week.  Don’t worry, we have plenty of winter fun planned for you at Knollwood to get you all the way to spring!


    Private Academy Shopping Night


    Our friends at Midwest Saddle Seat Consignment have set up a Knollwood shopping night while they’re in town.  They’ll be set up at the Hilton Garden on Pabst Farms Circle in Oconomowoc with a great assortment of shirts, vests, and accessories for the upcoming academy season.  Team Knollwood’s private shopping session is from 8 – 10 PM on Friday, January 5, and we’re looking forward to seeing you there.


    Academy Tailor Appointments


    Carla from the Gilded Lily LLC will be at the farm on Saturday, January 13 from 11-2 to measure riders for their custom academy vests for show season 2018. She can also help select colors, and can even do an initial fitting if you set up your appointment soon.  Please contact Ann or Nancy if you’d like a session with Carla.


    Academy Show Seminar

    We love academy showing! 

    We’re hosting an informational evening on Saturday, January 27 right here at the farm from 6:00 until around 8.  You’ll learn why we love academy showing so much, learn all about the schedule and different shows we attend, and discover the secrets to the perfect horse show bun.  The evening will also include demos from some of our current academy riders who will be happy to answer any questions riders or parents might have.


    Knockout Award Banquet

    On Saturday, February 17, the Knockouts will gather at the Legend at Bristlecone to celebrate the accomplishments of 2017, and take a look forward to the adventures of 2018.

    The evening will feature a delicious buffet dinner, awards for both in-barn and out of barn divisions, enlightening speeches, and a slide show.  We’ll finish the evening with a DJ and dancing.

    Invitations will be mailed to all Knockout members around the first of the year. 

    If you’d like to join us but you’re not yet a member, just talk to your instructor who will help you join the fun.  We’re always looking for new members to to get more involved in all things Knollwood.


    Used Clothing Sale

    On Saturday March 3, we’ll host a used clothing sale in our lounge from 11-3.

    We’ll be selling used jods, shirts, and vests to help our newest academy riders get prepared for the upcoming spring show. Jodi will have her wonderful show accessories for sale, too! We’ll have experienced show moms on hand to help you pick out the perfect outfit from head to toe.

    If you have academy show clothes that the rider in you home has outgrown, please consider donating them to the sale.  All proceeds benefit our retired horse slush fund, and the donations are greatly appreciated.


    Knollwood Spring Academy Show

    Join us the weekend of March 24-25 for our first academy show of the 2018 season. 

    Our walk, trot, and canter riders will show on Saturday, starting at 1:00, and will compete in divisions including equitation, pleasure, and pattern classes. The show will also feature the first qualifying class for the 2018 Knollwood Challenge Final!  Bareback and pairs classes are thrown in for fun, too.

    Sunday, March 25 will showcase our walk and trot riders in many different levels.  We offer leadline classes for our youngest riders, maiden classes for our first time show riders, as well as classes for our more experienced show riders.  Sunday also features one of our favorite divisions, the walk, trot and canter classes for riders 10 and under.

    Both days also feature a great concession stand run by our award winning youth group, the Knollwood Knockouts. 



    We hope you can join us for all the winter fun that will lead us right into spring.

    See you at the barn!



    As you're looking forward to your New Year's celebrations, remember that you have until January 1 to purchase Knollwood gift certificates at 10% off!



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  • Here's To The Knollwood Library

    Posted by Ann Wilt

    Here at Knollwood, we are fortunate beyond compare to enjoy the skills of 25+ lesson horses.


     With this cast of characters that we prefer to call our library, we can take riders from their first lesson to their first show horse, or anywhere in between.

    The size and breadth of our lesson program makes it possible to support all the different horses that teach lessons for us.  They come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds, but they all have great brains, and they love their jobs and all the people they get to work with.

    Here's a brief introduction to the library of Knollwood lesson horses. We have the perfect match for any point in a rider's education.


    The Saints

    Willy, Sparky, Dudley, and Brinkley are priceless.

    They enjoy beginner lessons whether in a group or private.  Their patience knows no limits, and they sometimes seem to be mind readers. Nothing throws them off their game in the arena, and even adjust their stride to keep their rookie riders in balance. Willy can actually work a group lesson with no one on his back.  Trust us, we’ve tried it, he did a class wearing just a bareback pad!

    These four grand geldings are very different shapes and sizes, but they all have hearts of gold.  Willy will be celebrating a milestone birthday in 2018, and has been with us for 27 years.  Our other three beginner experts have been with us a long time, and love hanging out with small riders. Their kind eyes will bring a smile to anyone’s face.


    The Tiny Tot Experts

    The Saints are all great at tiny tot lessons, and we have a couple more fellows who enjoy the relaxation of our program for the youngest riders.  Mark has the smoothest trotting stride in the land, and Pony Frank’s small size puts some of the smallest riders at ease. While he’s a pony through and through, under the watchful eyes of an instructor, he’s just the right size for the littlest riders.



    The Initial Challengers

    Once riders are comfortable posting on these four ‘furry metronomes,’ they’re ready to move up the next set of horses, who will test their resolve a little. Tony, Picasso, Fred, and Frank the Pony (not to be confused with Big Frank, for obvious reasons) are not quite as willing to listen to the instructor in the middle of the ring, or may just not really feel like trotting at the moment. These four will help riders advance their education and their confidence by teaching them to stick to their guns, and not let the horses decide what they’d like to do, or not like to do.

    Riders are also introduced to some really nice horses who have real personalities at this point, too. Forest has a terrific sense of humor, and he lives in a paddock with Frank the Pony at night.  He would also like to spend time with Frank in the arena, so he sometimes suggests to riders that they should be close to Frank during the lesson.  He will teach a rider to pay attention and keep his mind occupied.

    Bo has never figured out the value of doing anything slowly, and is always ready to go while Pony Frank would like to take frequent breaks if he feels he can.

    Tony and Picasso are wise beyond compare, and use their brains to suggest walking turns when they should be trotting, and to suggest that their lives would be easier if they could just cheat the corners a little at first …


    It's Saddlebred Time!

    Once riders have worked their way up through these teachers and are looking to making their debut at an in-barn show, they’ll move up to our starter saddlebreds, Sundance, Big Frank, Amos, and Hugo.  These 4 breed ambassadors give riders a huge smile when they trot down the rail with their heads up. 



    The Academy Starter Models

    For our riders who want to continue their private lessons to the academy show division, we have a whole additional set of lesson horses to start show ring experiences.  Walk and trot show ring stars Dexter, Klem, and  Hooper, will challenge our future stars a little while they learn how to use the arena like a pro and start patterns.  There may not be a better pattern teacher around that Hula Hooper.  If there is, we’d love to meet him!



    The Academy Sports Models

    After confidence building on these 4 riders work their way up to Baxter and Eddie, who have a little more energy and original thought.  They offer more energy, and more enthusiasm in the show ring. Eddie is one of those great Morgans that is SO good at patterns that he likes to offer options to his riders, but only after looking the instructor in the eye and letting them know that it’s testing time.



    The Academy Rock Stars

    As riders continue, they can work their way up to some of our horses who compete on the ‘B’ circuit in the area, and some who are still more challenging.  They’ll progress to Joey, JD, Heist, Panic, and Murphy for additional educational opportunities. These horses offer a real show horse experience for riders in the academy division.



    Beyond Academy,

    The Ultimate Lesson Challengers

    For riders looking to go above and beyond the academy division, we have still another layer of lesson horses to get them there.  Scott and Carol have their own string of horses to challenge the most advanced riders and who are leased to show on the 'A' circuit during the season.   Our most advanced riders have the opportunity to ride Cashew, Alex, Maddie, Felix, Smith, and Sadie to name a few. This string of horses offers challenges that only a real show horse can, and help even the strongest of riders progress to the top of the show horse world.



    We love all our lesson horses, and know you'll appreciate them too! 

    The library of equine teachers can help any rider achieve their personal goals, and we'd love to set up a program for you.  Please call Ann or Nancy at 262-367-2391 to set up a tour or to discuss the possibilities.


    See you at the barn!

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